Coast Diary – April 23rd

Traffic out my way has gone (more) haywire as part of the road has been closed for a month to facilitate new storm drains, presumably for the new estate down the road. The old wall that runs beside a footpath lined with trees has been taken down as have some of the trees for access. And in nesting season too. I saw a pair of bullfinch in there one year, only the second time I have seen bullfinch in this area. I imagine the lovely old wall further down, the one that runs along Newtown Woods (New Town, how ironic), will be next to fall. The new (mindless) one way system has also been temporarily abandoned for the second time in months to add to the mayhem. All the cars from the housing estate are being redirected out by my house and they are all travelling at speed without regard to anyone along the road. An SUV changed course to drive straight at me to avoid another SUV one evening. I am not sure how I am still here. The choice between an SUV or ‘hedge monkey’ is no contest to some of those housing estate folk. I know because I grew up in one. A housing estate not an SUV…

But there’s good stuff too. We have been having some lovely dry weather with a bit of a chill in the air. I had a lovely walk on the main beach mid-week. There were not as many birds as there used to be in this Special Protected Area, possibly because of the the boom in dog walkers who allow their dogs to run wild here (insert more giving out with swears), but I saw geese and oystercatchers and a snowy egret. Best of all I found a horses tooth (pictured above).

Why would there be horse teeth on a beach? There used to be a race course behind the beach from 1785 to 1911. The land had been reclaimed and the sea held in check by an embankment from the mid 1800s, however this gave way in April 1911 and the race course flooded. The only lives lost were those of three puppies belonging to the local hunt. The racecourse was moved up the town to its current location. While you might not think a racecourse would also be a cemetery, there seems to be precedent for it. The bodies of three famous horses were exhumed at Hollywood Park, the once famous track in California, to make way for a housing development recently. I suppose it makes most sense to bury a horse where it falls, as must have happened more than once at Tramore.

I found a horse’s tooth on this beach many years ago and thought it belonged to some sort of sea monster. They are big, horse’s teeth. I was soon put right but the thought of a sea monster lingered. Then my tooth disappeared, stolen, I think, by another horse tooth appreciator. Now I have found another one, I feel I have some sort of closure. Laugh all you like but I take my consolations where I can. You can’t be depending on any of the big stuff to make you happy…

The new bird hide had its official opening this week too. An initiative of the industrious Tramore Eco Group it’s is situated overlooking the Back Strand on the small nature reserve that has evolved on the old town dump. The nature reserve has its issues with irresponsible dog walkers too, especially in nesting season, as does Fenor Bog out the road, but maybe, eventually, these people will wake up to the rights of others – both people and creatures – and their part in the continuing existence of all. If they do it will be down to those strong hearts in groups like Tramore Eco Group.

I saw my first swallows of the year out on an evening walk (me walking, not the swallows). It was April 20th so I am not setting any records at all – sure they are practically on their way back to Africa now!- the first ones were seen weeks ago and further north. Someone spotted a basking shark too, on one of the sunnier days, down off Kilfarrasy. Yesterday morning I walked down to another of the smaller beaches and paddled in the ice cold water. It was a lovely, grey morning i.e. it was quiet. I saw a lone whimbrel on the beach and sat and watched it until it was chased off. By a dog. Sigh. Then I walked the grey road home.

Coast Diary – April 15th

Fittingly enough, this Easter week, I have noticed a whole bunch of bunnies in the fields near the cliffs. Natural enough you might say, but rabbits were never plentiful around here – as far as I could see. There are stonechats and goldfinches, gulls, rooks, choughs, kestrels and the buzzard, but no badgers or owls and very few rabbits. Perhaps because its open to the south westerlies. The only mammal that seemed to hold steady here is the hare.

I have been afraid of mentioning the beautiful hares for fear of attracting raids from the coursing crowd. But there seems to be no hares left now. Only two years ago, some miles from here, a friend looked out her window one night and spotted a crew with lamps hunting hares for their meets. Then there’s the cats which are increasing with the influx of new builds.

I am very conflicted about cats. I am an instinctive cat person. But out in rural areas they can lay waste to the birds. And hares. The cat next door carried off two leverets a couple of years ago, one from right under my nose. And last year it got another one right outside my door – I heard its scream but was too late. It still makes me sick that I could nothing. This spring was the first time ever I did not see any mad hares in March. Perhaps keep your cats in as much as possible around the spring time?

But what goes around come around or, as they say, there are swings and there are roundabouts – and pointless one way systems, like the one recently put in place near here. Drivers coming to the nearby cove find they have to loop around and drive back into the town and back out another road to get there now (seriously-whose idea was that?). One of the results of this is an uptick in irritated drivers and an increasing number of local cats sent sailing into their tenth lives.

Buzz the buzzard could have been blamed for the decline in the hares too – apparently they take baby bunnies – but Buzz seems to have disappeared too. Moved on, got old, or shot, who knows but it may be one reason why the bunnies are proliferating. Another is that there doesn’t seem to be any foxes about this year. A vixen appeared with four cubs in the spring two years ago. I would watch them playing around their den on the cliffs and find bits of sea gull, remains of their marine style meals. But there’s no sign of them these days. I suspect someone got to them. They weren’t very well concealed.

Anyway, though I prefer the hare, I don’t mind watching bunnies. Watership Down was – and is – one of my favourite books. Lying in a ditch watching the rabbits at their evening ‘silflay’ and thinking about General Woundwort and the heroic Bigwig has its compensations. For now. There is one particular rabbit that has been in the same place a number of evenings in a row. I call it Hazel because I like to think it is just getting ready to leave its body in the ditch after a long and eventful life. But it’s more likely it has ‘the mixy’ – the white blindness – as Richard Adams called it. In that case the newly arrived bunnies may not have long to run.

On that cheerful note…Happy Easter everyone!

Coast Diary – April 9th

After a warm patch, its cold again this week with hail pelting down yesterday from the boiling cumulus between April showers. But there’s the palm tree I can see from my house and I am mesmerized by its spiky green leaves against the ultramarine blue of the sea. Over lockdown I tried – and failed to paint it – to convey those tropical palm tree vibes. As you can see, I am probably more suited to the hawthorn.

Growing up, I was entranced by the TV, by the children’s shows (Flipper), westerns (Bonanza), the comedies (The Brady Bunch, The Beverly Hillbillies) and the cop shows (CHiPs). Hollywood, California was a technicolour Utopia only reachable through the tube. I was in my 30’s before it occurred to me you could actually go to California in real life and in my 40s when I finally got there. And even though I realised it was a lot more real than you might think – where the desert meets the sea its often foggy and Santa Barbara can look like Ireland on certain days – I am still entranced by Americana, by motels, neon lights and freeways. So while some friends complain about invasive species on our shores, I quite love the ‘palm’ trees that are ubiquitous in the gardens of our coast. On a sunny day I am in LA, I am in technicolour, I am alive. Palm trees are to our gnarly, knuckled hawthorns bent under the weight of a history of servitude to the south westerlies, what Marilyn Monroe was to Peig – a promise of a bigger, better life, with no pain no tragedy…

So much for that, as Marilyn could tell us. Our palm trees aren’t palm trees, or even trees. The cordyline australis, cabbage palm or cabbage tree is a plant and native of New Zealand. It was popularized in Ireland in the early to mid 1800s, presumably in the posher gardens. They began to spread into the wild in the 1970s when they became popular with the burgeoning middle classes. And they continue to proliferate despite coming under threat during some of our colder winters. Perhaps they are at once Peig and Marilyn…

***

For any one in Waterford today, I am launching an illustrated book based on my South Russia blog at Garter Lane Theatre at 3pm. All Welcome.

References

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/palm-trees-in-ireland-36548780/

https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/homes-and-property/2.770/cordyline-crisis-hits-country-1.568415

Coast Diary – April 2nd

Out walking the other day I noticed a skip outside one of the last little cottages in the area. It’s occupant had died the previous week after a long illness. Her good neighbours could be seen in recent times going in to visit, or out walking her dog. Now she is gone and there is the possibility of the cottage being sold, rented or kept empty as a holiday home. The whole thing made me melancholy, not only that this lovely lady who had lived with her husband in their unassuming cottage overlooking the sea had left, but also what their departure emphasised – the accelerating creep of suburbia. Most of the houses here now are relatively modern but are modest compared to some of the newer builds which have settled like rotten teeth in the lower jaw of the coastal loop. Inexplicably it seems easier to get planning for two-storied ugly things the closer you are to the sea.

The most recent cottage to receive a makeover around here now has a shiny new roof and modern window frames. Not bad you might say but far worse is the collection of tightly packed structures dropped, seemingly at random, into the small plot which was once a shady habitat behind the cottage. Now, with the hawthorn around it cut back, the slanting black planes, unbroken by windows, redact the skyline. It’s cramped, dark angles, senselessly crowded into the small space, induces claustrophobia even walking past. But change is inevitable and I suppose those that came before mourned the new bungalows and those living in ditches despised the cottages when they were first built.

There are still one or two old cottages left, some green spaces fiercely protected. If you concentrate on them, and on the rumpled fields and headlands, the reddish brown cliffs, the wheeling birds, you can, imagine it as it once was before blow-ins like me took root. The cottages low and drifting smoke on the chill evenings as figures crossed the blue fields behind their cows. The road, then just a track where people stopped to swap tales or along which they hurried to borrow milk or share a catch of mackerel, or visit a sick neighbour. Some things don’t change. As the night closes in and the owls and badgers and foxes start their shift, the warm lights in the windows dim and go out one by one and beyond, barely visible but constant to the ear, the heaving sea.

***

Last week I rock-pooled and as those in the know, know, rockpooling is like heroin – for anoraks like me anyway. So I was at it again this week. This time also saw some Snakelock Anemones, below. Those chaps can’t retract their tentacles. Awkward. The ones I didn’t name last week (even further below) are Dahlia Anenomes.

Coast Diary – March 26th

The Church of Fergus…probably.

What weather we are having this week; clear blue skies and deliciously warm sun, a treat after an extra long, extra wet and dreary winter. So what if there’s a razor of chill in the air and a haze that lingers, especially near the coast. It only adds a sharpness to the taste of spring and layers the landscape in misty blues. Even if you have been working in the city all week like I have, this weather is balm for the soul. I have caught the tail end of some of these days, racing out the road to see the blue sea fade to white, the metal man’s pillars glow warmly before their familiar shapes dwindle into the dusk and everything is still and pinky-purple. What days for swims too in water smooth and silky yet viciously icy enough to wake hibernating innards. So I imagine but my blasted ear and its lingering, occasional stabbing pain – someone with a voodoo doll perhaps?- prevents me from taking the plunge for now.

Last Sunday I walked out for an hour or so on the narrow road parallel to the coast. I have heard it said around here that Cromwell’s army marched this way, most likely to Waterford from Dunhill (where they took that castle after an unfortunate incident involving beer – a lack of it believe it or not) although I remember looking for evidence of the route before and not finding any. I stopped at the old church on top of the hill going down to Kilfarrasy. It is a ruin and is on private land but you can just about see it over the spring-time ditch. This is the townland of Islandikane – once O’Kane’s Island, though it is not an island rather a headland – and it may possibly have been a possession of the Templar Knights but I can’t be be bothered checking. Kilfarrasy means Church of Fergus so perhaps that is the name of the church.

Then yesterday, Friday, a day off, was spent mostly pottering and putting the house to rights, a house thats somehow seems to upend itself when I am not in it. Is it possible I have a raft of giant toddler poltergeists? Still, I got a good walk in the evening, down to the nearest little beach. The smell of fresh cut grass mingled with the occasional hint of a turf fire and the primroses are peeking out. The daffodils are still with us, nodding or stretching earnestly towards the light. The hedgerows squeak and chirp and rustle with the busy shapes within. On the beach the tide was low and as the sun set I poked around some of the rock pools for anenomes. To my delight I not only spotted a common Beadlet Anenome, those jelly-like reddish, brown ones but a small, chubby, pale lavender Jewel Anenome as well as another small one I have not seen before and have not yet found a name for. I also spotted a small, deliciously spotty, Strawberry Anenome. Except perhaps for the Beadlet Anenome, these anenomes are not immediately visible so if you want to see them you need to crouch and crawl around the rocks. It’s a surprisingly soothing past time, teetering on slippy rocks, staring into what, initially anyway, seem to be dank pools. Disregarding how nerdish this may seem or the funny looks you get, you find, as with life, the closer you look the more treasure you see.

Coast Diary – March 12th & 19th

Wonky seagulls over Bride Street..

Though I was away for work last week, I was going to post something – a sketch of my runners on the edge of the tide as I took a paddle the night before leaving perhaps. Or the seagulls hovering in the blue sky above Bride Street in Dublin along with a rumination about how you are never really that far from a sea gull in Ireland. But I didn’t bother. And now another week has rolled around and, having been wrung out by Dublin, I have nothing. This, I only realised when I was down in Fenor Bog at sunset fruitlessly looking for frogs, something I do for no reason at all. ‘Perhaps I will see a frog‘, I thought and will write about that. But of course I did not. Like sea potatoes, frogs are masters at avoiding me. I did see a gang of long-tailed tits, the cutest of the tit family – seriously, can we not, like the Americans, call them chickadees? – and also happily noted a new, shiny, bright NO DOGS sign, which is unfortunately needed in this little nature reserve. My happiness was quenched in about 30 seconds with the appearance of a gormless girl walking her dog around the bog. You have to make an effort to get to this bog to walk your dog, so kudos to her for that I suppose…

In an effort to circumvent my rant gene (another fruitless exercise), I hightailed it to Kilfarrasy Beach where the sun had just slipped behind the horizon, leaving behind a yellowy pink blush in the cloudless sky that reminded me of peardops. Mmm, peardrops…A camper van, parked lengthways, had claimed the space against the wall overlooking the beach but I went to have a look out at the sea anyway. As I did the camper van couple in their private sunset seats between camper and wall came into view to my left. Awkward. We tried to ignore eachother but when I did glance their way the fella gave me a look. Perhaps my ‘resting bitch face’ gave them a look too – I can never tell what it’s doing – because they soon packed their chairs up and retreated inside. It must be so annoying when the general public wander around the public space you have comandeered for yourself and your mid-life crisis purchases.

The light faded and it got colder and I gave up and came home. Maybe I’ll find something to write about next week….

Coast Diary – February 26th

There were some beautiful days out after the storms at the weekend, though a bit chilly and there was still a big swell going. I walked my usual loopy route a couple of times, down to the sea and back, saw the neighbour, saw Buzz in his tree, and the heron laboriously flapping his way from the main beach overland to one of the coves to the west and wondered what I am going to keep writing about for the rest of the year…

I was distracted from my pondering when, as I walked towards the emergency access point I mentioned last week, the one that runs down through the woods to the cove, I came across a car parked up right between the gate that said NO PARKING EMERGENCY ACCESS POINT and the sign that said NO PARKING EMERGENCY ACCESS POINT. The rest of the road was empty. The registration suggested the owners were ‘inlanders’.

There’s something about NO PARKING signs that seem to draw certain motorists like a beacon. It’s a huge problem at the beaches during the summer, cars parking for hours at a time blocking all access to the water, risking lives and….but there are many, many idiots in the world and there was no point ruining my walk so I continued on down to the cove where there were some swimmers about. Scanning the sea with binoculars in the hope of seeing some dolphins or whales, I became lost in looking at the horizon, the wind on the water, the current as the tide dropped, the birds flying back and forth or bobbing on the waves, the sun slanting to catch the white caps or illuminating the water an electric green here and there. There’s something of eternity about the sea as it stretches to meet the sky so, as I wandered back up through the woods, I composed a piece on the serenity the sea inspires for this week’s blog post. But. The car was still there. My serenity, accelerating from 0-60, took off.

I thought about snitching to the Garda Síochána* but they would be more likely to put me through the mill for disturbing their serenity. Don’t think its our ‘síochána’ they’re keen on protecting. I didn’t even consider posting on one of the Facebook community groups because anyone who posts there about bad parking- in disabled spaces or at the supermarket door (who are those ‘special’ people?!) – gets piled on by lazy idiot skanger trolls who write things like…

“That was me and I’ll f****** park where I like lol”

But there was no need for me to outsource my ire because before I had gone much further the driver of the car returned. A couple and a kid. The woman had been swimming. I waited until they were driving towards me and I stepped out and flagged them down.

I calmly told them that they had parked in an emergency access point. I said our search and rescue need those access points. I asked them to please not do it again and I said I hoped that they would never need the search and rescue services. This last was a lie because I was simultaneously picturing them all being carried out to sea on a burning raft. I believe I spoke calmy and neutrally but with my ‘resting bitch face’ and my articulacy, I have unknowingly frightened the bejasus out of people in the past so who knows?And who cares.

The guy took what I said with equamanity. He may have been one of those men who just hears ‘blahblahblah’ when a woman speaks. A possible reason for this was in the seat beside him where his partner, newly out of the swelling sea, looked like she would have few things to say to me once she had spat out the mouth full of lemons that she habitually chewed on. The salt water didn’t seem to be doing her any good anyway so, as she slammed her body back against her seat in irritation – and as a possible prelude to spitting lemons at me – I walked away.

Maybe they were having a bad day.

LOL.

Further up the road I ran into another neighbour, one of the group of women I used to swim with. She’s a veteran of many years. I asked her had she been in this week

No no, the tide’s not right at our time, and anyway the water’s still unsettled. I wouldn’t chance it.

She knows that anyone of us could get into trouble and need help, even the veterans. So even if you might not mind a few inlanders being carried off, it’s still best if we…

DON’T PARK IN THE F******* ACCESS POINTS!

Thank you.

No LOLS.

*An Garda Síochána is our police force here in Ireland and it translates as The Guardian of the Peace.

Coast Diary – February 12th

It’s thirty years this month since the Toulouse Experiment but you won’t have heard of it. It was the early ’90s when three of us, on another samey night out in Waterford, decided to buy one-way tickets to France. Plans for escape are not unusual on boozy Tuesdays in February but, to my continuing shock, we actually went ahead with it and within a week we were off. We went to Paris for a few days, slept on someone’s floor and had adventures – we had a gun pointed at us, one of us went missing – then planned to fly on to Toulouse (the missing one had turned up). My two flibberty-gibbet friends managed to miss the flight even though they were right beside me in the airport, so I landed in Toulouse alone, without a word of French. I survived and stayed on there for four months, mostly drinking wine. What has this to do with the coast? Not much except that one of those flibberty-gibbet gals turned up last Sunday on a visit home from Switzerland and suggested we go for a swim. Though Switzerland is land-locked, she’s a coastal gal and she has been dipping a few times a week in Lake Geneva. I would like to try that one day but I think I will always prefer the salt and the tumbly waves.

We went to Garrarus and, though it was windy, grey and rough, the tide was low enough that we could safely dip in Johnny’s Pool, a part of the beach which at certain times is protected from the worst waves. I don’t know exactly who Johnny was except that he was one of the numerous regular sea swimmers at Garrarus and he has since passed away. There have been all weather sea swimmers here for a long time.

I started year-round swimming with a group of women about 15 years ago. Back then, when most aspiring, upper-middle-class women declared proudly that they would only swim in the Seychelles in mid-summer in a hot tub, those sea-swimming women were practically thought of as witches. However, since lockdown, every Tom, Dick and Harriet is in the water. There’s a saying swimmers here use – ‘The sea is like soup!” – they’ll say, meaning its bloody baltic! Now its more like thick stew, full of people. I didn’t even bother going for the usual Christmas swim as I imagined it would be like the Ganges with dryrobes®and prosecco.

I have to admit here that I received a dryrobe®as a present a couple of years back and was over the moon. Up to then I had been using an elasticated towel (also very handy). However within a few weeks of receiving the dryrobe®, they had become a cultural byword for ‘idiot poseur’, with people wearing them around the town as they shopped, to indicate they had been swimming. So while it’s too practical not too use, I always don it with a slightly apologetic air that suggests that though I am not of the same vintage as the Johnny of Johnny’s Pool, I am definitely not one of those Johnny-come-latelys.

So last Sunday was my Christmas swim – finally! – with my flibberty-gibbet pal who I hadn’t seen in a long time, though she did manage to reach Toulouse that time, as did the other one, before they both headed straight back to the more interesting Paris. The slower south suited me better. She is still a flibberty-gibbet, as am I. We had tea and chocolate. And it was lovely.

Coast Diary – February 5th

Totally Tropical…

This week I was rushing around the country again, first to a weekend workshop in Clare, which was a great experience, but it was a few miles from the sea and we spent the whole weekend tucked away in the countryside, working. When I left I decided to hit the coast. But once again, I found myself as unimpressed by Clare’s coast as I am by the rest of the county. It quite bemuses me that people rate it as a destination. I suppose there are some good views from the Cliffs of Moher though there’s too much tourist, car park and interpretative centre for me – and if you’re a surfer, Aileens and other places are quite beautiful to surf, at least judging from Mickey Smith’s filmwork. But for land based stuff…meh. So I got as far as Spanish Point – so exotic sounding I actually thought I hadn’t been there before. I imagined standing like a lady pirate, windswept, on a high headland, weeping for my lover, a dashing survivor of the Armada, whom I had to kill as he was drawing attention to my piratey behaviour…but its just another scrubby beach that had slipped my mind. Sorry Clare – the only good thing about you is your name.

I headed north to Connemara then, because really, once you navigate the trauma of the N24 as far as Limerick, its best to get as many visits in as possible. Connemara beaches are my favourite , though the much vaunted Roundstone leaves me cold – alright, I’m picky, sue me – so I travelled through it in order to visit a coral beach I am fond of. The tide was in and the weather grey and blustery so the white sand and turquoise sea was not much in evidence but I went for a brief walk on it anyway and the magic struck again. I don’t know if its the tiny pieces of coral, washed in from far tropical places on the north atlantic current, the shells, or the pink, red and black rock, scored by time’s passing, all vibrant even in dull light but even the little bit of rubbish – two oranges lying in the sea weed some distance apart and further up two cartons of Tropicana orange juice – seemed to tell a story. What story it was I still haven’t imagined. I looked for signs of life or death, but the only other creature I saw was an unfortunate Portuguese man o’ war tangled in the seaweed. These beautifully blue/pink, gas filled, bladder like creatures are siphonophores – often mistakenly identified as jellyfish – travel at the mercy of the sea and wind, trailing their deadly, prussian blue tentacles. They can be lethal even to humans and better not touched even in death.

Later, I travelled on, deeper into Galway, towards other favourite beaches which will remain nameless. At the end of the line my artist friend, not seen for a number of years, had set up a bakery. Heaven is here.

Coast Diary – January 29th

I was wondering last week how I’d keep a coast diary going, I mean how often can you say

‘I saw the sea today. It was nice.”

But I forgot that things have a habit of…happening. There was the news that Russia is planning military manoeuvers off our southwest coast, which will likely be damaging to the ceteaceans, besides being politically – and in all other ways – dubious. Jokes abounded, mostly about the Healy-Raes luring Russian boats onto the rocks to loot the occupants but it is worrying and worth keeping an eye on.

Last week’s post was about how many dolphins are around and on Sunday a common dolphin washed up on Tramore Beach. I guess there was bound to be some casualties. On my way to the beach, our distinctive red and white SAR helicopter, Rescue 117 out of Waterford airport, passed over going at speed. It was heading out the coast where a body, a human one, had washed up. May they rest in peace. Some days after this, we were relieved to find out that Rescue 117 will remain at Waterford airport after it had appeared that base might be omitted from a new contract. It won’t be the last time the SAR will be threatened by penny-pinching civil servants but they’ll always have a fight on their hands. We revere our SAR, not only on our islands and the coast but inland, on the rivers, up the mountains and even in the cities.

Down on the beach, the unfortunate dolphin was a full grown female common dolphin and fairly fresh. Though I don’t normally notice that the animals differ much, she seemed to me to be especially pretty so I later tried a watercolour of her but it doesn’t quite capture her. It was very busy with walkers and I was dreading recording (taking tissue samples, photos and measurements) but I found to my surprise that, as I used to before Covid, I enjoyed talking to the people that asked about the dolphin. My innate misanthropy had flourished with lockdown. I found it hard to understand how many people couldn’t be bothered about social distancing or just having manners – in supermarkets and out and about, especially on the narrow roads. I literally twisted myself out of shape running around people. And I genuinely find it shocking how many couples (and families) can’t do things individually – like shop, or walk single file – are ye afraid your other half will get away if you can’t keep an eye on them? At least it has made me cherish my independence. Anyway it was nice to feel my mojo return. But it didn’t last long as family groups began crowding around. Some people are very blase about letting their kids pat dead animals and their dogs lick them. It was very cold waiting around for people to move on so I got out of there fairly fast with the result I didn’t take great photos.

The next day, Monday, the IWDG asked me for better pictures of certain marks that suggested by-catch i.e. when a dolphin dies because it is caught up in a net by a trawler, dumped on deck and then thrown back in the water. So I went back to the beach but the Council had already removed her the previous evening. They are usually pretty on the ball about this. They are also always very helpful when I need to record a body that has been removed. This time I was actually escorted a few miles inland to where she was lying next to an enormous seal that had also washed up at the weekend. Biggest seal I have ever seen at around six foot and hefty. Poor chap. I got my photos.

The upshot of all that is that I began an online course to become more familiar with marks resulting from by-catch. But without a post mortem, its hard to determine cause of death. It may be she wasn’t the victim of by-catch, but of other, larger dolphins for, besides the regular rake marks on her skin – common dolphins often have the teeth marks of other common dolphins on their flesh – there were wide-set rake marks, so it is possible she was attacked by the larger, more thuggish bottlenose dolphin.

The rest of the week was all about work: covering for sick people, rushing around installing artworks in various locations, writing an article for a deadline, beginning an online University module as well as the by-catch training. I finally got out on the cliff again one evening when the sun peeked out from under the cloud. There were birds and boats but no dolphins. I did see a couple of whale blows though, about 5km off, just briefly before they travelled further out towards the horizon. It was nice.